Reaching People at Optimal Moments is the Key Challenge for B2C Apps
There’s no shortage of great ideas, but taking B2C apps to the same heights of popularity and market success as B2B remains a challenge for 2021.
The problem lies in the identification of critical moments and how to leverage them.
Too often, B2C application developers and marketers look at moments from a fragmented perspective. You either have the user experience (UX) journey after conversion, with the developer eager to optimize UX design for maximum “stickiness.” Or you have marketers targeting prospects to reduce the cost of customer acquisition as much as possible so that the app’s revenue model is viable.
I’m here to tell you that both these priorities are part of the same conversation. B2C application companies must add a third element, which is the creation of moments actually to retain the customer in today’s competitive B2C world.
Before You Sell: Customer Moments Before Conversion and How To Make the Most of Them
There are several ways to investigate a customer’s journey before conversion, like the prevalent AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action). The one I have found extremely applicable to the B2C software segment is the breakdown of the journey into four types of moments:
1. Zero moments of truth
A concept envisioned by Google, it refers to the moment when a prospect/future customer decides to start researching a product. Contrary to what most people believe, online purchases in the B2C segment (whether e-commerce or B2C apps) are rarely impulse buys. Today, an educated and informed customer will conduct their research across peer review sites, comparison sites, online magazines, etc., before they subscribe even to a free app.
The decision is to start looking marks the zero moments of truth.
2. First moment of truth
P&G outlined this concept in 2005, referring to the first time a prospect interacts with a brand or its product/service to form an impression. It is a pre-perception stage — i.e., the possibility still hasn’t made up their mind about your product and is open to new ideas.
3. Second moment of truth
It encompasses the entire product experience, from the time customers subscribe to an app to their actual usage, monetization, and support services. You could break this up into hundreds of smaller micro-experiences. But for this discussion, it is better to think of them as an integrated whole requiring the same intervention.
4. Ultimate moment of truth
Digital anthropologist, Brian Solis, spoke about this concept in his book “What’s the Future of Business?” Arguably, this is the most critical moment for a B2C app, as this is when a customer’s experience gets converted into discoverable content that works to restore other customers at no additional cost of acquisition. The moment when a person decides to leave a positive review, share the product on social media, or refer it to a friend falls under this category.
Successful B2C apps all target these four moments to break through the initial barriers to adoption.
Tinder, Snapchat, and Etsy all decided to target their prospects offline to maximize the zero moments of truth. Tinder went to colleges, Snapchat handled out flyers at a mall, while Etsy had representatives travelling across U.S. craft fairs.
Lyft started by sending personal email invites to its employees’ network. Facebook mentioned the app on one of Harvard’s undergrad residential complexes’ mailing lists. All of these served to create ultimate moments of truth that would expand the app’s customer base.
After You Sell: Anticipating Moments in the Service Stage and Why It Matters
Monetization has become somewhat of a watershed in a typical B2C startup’s journey. The apps providers are left unsure as to how to retain the customer after monetization and continue to extract lifetime value.
In reality, most of the apps we download go unused, and in a SaaS world, users aren’t afraid to unsubscribe if an app doesn’t deliver as per their unwritten standards of value.
Let’s unwrap the term “unwritten standards.”
Most apps begin with a kernel of a great idea. It is then the business’ job to take it to fruition, enabling monetization of the concept and solving real customer problems. But to do this effectively, B2C app businesses need to understand the unwritten standards they are striving for or risk losing the idea’s potential somewhere during the bumpy ride to monetization.
● Empathy — A customer expects its providers to understand their problems intuitively, and help to navigate them, even if the provider cannot help to solve them.
● Presence — As customers expand their digital reach, the application provider expects to keep up. It means omnichannel content, advertising, native marketing, and customer service.
● Surprise — Surprise is a useful element for retaining user attention in a digital world that is so full of distractions. Non-functional updates are the right way of injecting surprise into B2C.
● Delight — Similar to surprise, joy is a value-adding element to the B2C app experience, in that it doesn’t serve a functional purpose. It is beyond the application SLAs (e.g., faster than expected service response time, addressing customers by their first name, exclusive promotions, etc.) can be understood as causing delight.
● Resolution — The most critical unwritten standard of all, the customer expects the product and the product team to offer a solution. It includes post-service follow-ups for real closure.
These five elements exist between the dots that connect a traditional customer journey map. The ability to introduce these elements in every interaction (as much as possible) can help entrench the B2C app further in customer’s consciousness.
In comparison to B2C apps, B2B apps, enjoy a relatively higher Daily Active Usage metrics, owing to the nature of the application and top-down mandate. However, the stakes, also tend to be higher in B2B apps as compared to B2C apps. Imperfect customer journey or lack of empathy or sub-optimal process flow has a direct impact on the employee productivity and customer experience with a bearing on topline and bottom line.
One of the B2B business process automation app, in request to fulfilment area, followed a staged coverage approach. It started with only internal IT users using the app to resolve/automate a business process, followed by functional users and eventually, business users. This controlled roll-out helped to:
1. Identify the moment of truth
2. Support and train users in a controlled manner
3. Follow an internal word of mouth bottom-up advocacy in addition to top-down approach leading to higher adoption and usage, thereby creating a WIN-WIN for all.
Seamless Tomorrow’s Swami App simplifies the process, fuses the business, and IT divide and provide a solution in an empathetic manner based on user context. The solution addresses the perennial issue of how to accelerate the access management process without the introduction of any risk for SAP ERP user community while maintaining compliance and control.
The Third Element: Creation of Moments
The next logical step is to create moments that trigger a strong emotional response from the prospect/customer. McKinsey finds an undeniable correlation between customer emotions and decisions, as per an experiment on moments of truth in customer service. 87% of customers who experience a positive feeling will either purchase a new product or increase the value of the product/services they use.
COVID pandemic has acted as an accelerator for technology adoption across various segments, with healthcare being at the forefront. Owing to lockdown restrictions, customers have got more conscious of their eating habits and overall health due to the lack of options for physical activities.
Multiple diets and exercise tracking apps have seen a surge in several downloads, however, have also observed a significant challenge in maintaining or increasing the number of “Daily Active Users”.
App owners have tried multiple options like to deliver or drive user towards the ultimate moment of truth:
1. Reminder based Push notifications
2. Articles / Blogs to maintain interest
3. Individual or Group-Based Goal Tracking
The jury is still out. Majority of the B2C app owners are still struggling to find the magic mantra on how users can subconsciously make it a habit to use the app and derive benefits from it even though FOMO may help to increase the number of downloads.
Here’s where B2C companies must get creative and carefully study customer profiles, digital behaviour, and psychological signals to isolate which tactics would work best. For instance, when Pinterest first began in 2010, it was an invite-only app that would remain closed to the public for two years. It created a sense of “FOMO,” which is a strong enough emotion to turn that moment into a decision to subscribe.
The fact that ten years later, Cred would use the same tactic for interest, arousal, and ultimately conversion tells you how critical customer moments are in the B2C app marketplace.
What are your thoughts on B2C apps and their strategies for effective customer conversion and retention? Please tell me your thoughts, leave a comment, or contact me at Arvind@am-pmassociates.com.